Teaching students how to read can be one of the most stressful things to do as a teacher. It isn’t always easy and there are a lot of factors that come into play. It’s important to remember that learning to read is a developmental process and kids progress at their own rate. I’ve reminded parents before that there is a big difference in development between a child born in January and one born in December. They may be in the same grade, but a child born in January has been alive for almost a full year longer than one born in December. That often puts things into perspective for them. And guess what? Those kids do catch up!
I introduce new letters by reading a sound story from the book Raconte-moi les sons. Each story comes with an action, so we practice the action and review the actions from prior weeks. I find this helpful because if they forget a sound, I can refer back to the stories and the action, which usually reminds them of the sound. This is my favourite resource to use for letter sounds. Bonus: if you end up teaching an older grade, it also includes compound sounds! I have used this book in kindergarten, but I also use it up to Grade Two. I also utilize morning messages for daily letter sound practice. Here are some examples of ways that we practice letter sounds each morning:
- Find the letter in my message
- Words that begin with the letter of the week
- Letter hunt in the classroom
- Word hunt in the classroom
- Practice writing the letter (upper case and lower case)
- Names of students who begin with the letter
- Names of students who have the letter in their name
- Sorting words with the letter as its first sound
- Practice reading syllables
- Practice the letter sound with its action
- Read letter poems
The order I teach letters in follows the Raconte-moi book I linked above. I skip the compound sounds that are mixed in with the letter sounds (I come back to them). I always start with vowels, then I move on to the easier consonants before getting to the harder ones at the end. I teach B and D one after the other, to help students differentiate between the lower case letters and I do the same with P and Q later on. The Raconte-moi book has an extra to help you differentiate between the two (on top of the regular stories).
The other thing I do is some phonics work. I created a French Sound Mega Bundle which I use with my students. Each pack has 6 activities, the simple sounds have easier activities than the compound ones, but all packs follow the same format. They are predictable, making them a great choice for your classroom. I’ve linked the full bundle, which includes all vowel/compound sounds, as well as some consonant sounds. The sound activities can also be purchased individually or in smaller bundles. Of course, buying the entire bundle is the cheapest option (28% off), but you also have the choice of buying a few. If you’re looking to try it out or see what it’s like, the an/am pack is free. You can find it by visiting the Freebie Library on my blog. Phonics work is so important to help solidify the learning happening during carpet time. It can offer a hands-on way to practice sounds as well as a paper-based way, depending on the activities you choose. I personally love magnetic letters, stamps, and literacy-based sensory bins like the one below for kindergarten. I love the sound mega bundle for primary.
Between phonics work and consistent review of all learned sounds, I find most students catch on quickly. Using the letter of the week to introduce a few new words is also a great way to build vocabulary in your language learners. In my next post in this series, I will be talking about syllables, so make sure you come back to learn about those!